Suns Erase Massive Deficit, Defeat Hornets in Overtime

Published: November 23, 2012

Suns bench provides spark that Hornets reserves can’t match in 111-108 loss

Midway through the third quarter, the Hornets were rolling. Ryan Anderson had just connected on his fourth three pointer and the Hornets had a commanding 69-53 lead. At that point, Phoenix head coach Alvin Gentry did something that Monty Williams can’t do- he inserted bench players capable of improving his teams’ chance of winning. PJ Tucker, Luis Scola, and Sebastian Telfair highlighted a unit that was on the floor for the majority of a 43-16 run that completely swung the momentum and turned the game around.

The descrepencies between the benches was clearly the difference tonight. While Phoenix’s backups contributed 50 points, the Hornets reserves only chipped in 16. You saw it at the end of the game, when PJ Tucker grabbed an offensive rebound with 5 seconds left and drained two free throws to seal the victory. Meanwhile, Monty was shorthanded. No Davis, no Gordon, and Jason Smith played just 32 seconds- leaving with a scratched cornea in the second quarter.

The Hornets gunner off the bench, Ryan Anderson was forced to start tonight due to the Davis injury and saying that he was fantastic would be underselling his performance. He finished the night with 34 points on just 23 shots and was 8 of 13 from deep. He also seemed to come up with every key rebound, finishing with 11, and played great pick and roll defense. Several times he switched with Vasquez and had no problem staying in front of Goran Dragic.

Nights like this hurt, there is no way around it. This team is struggling right now and looking at the schedule provides us with legitimate reason to fear that this slide will continue. But a performance like this is something to build upon. Ryan Anderson is only 24 and he is locked up for the next four years. The Suns put us down tonight, but there will be brighter days.

Notes and Observations

– As good as Anderson’s P&R defense was tonight, I can’t help but note how terrible Lopez’s was in this game. In fact, Phoenix recognized this midway through the overtime and stopped running the pick and roll with Morris and started running it with Lopez’s man, Jermaine O’Neal. The result was multiple Hornets having to come and help, including Anderson, leaving Morris open for a three that was essentially the dagger.

– Not to pick on Lopez, but he made Jermaine O’Neal look like a 22 year old tonight. This is O’Neal’s 16th year in the league and he has had over a dozen surgeries, yet he looked fleet footed next to Lopez on both ends of the court.

– Al Farouq Aminu had a great game, all things considered, but a couple of those turnovers in the half court were just brutal. I don’t know what goes through his head sometimes. The guy has a hard enough time dribbling in a straight line when no defenders are around him, and he thinks he is going to go behind his back in between two defenders in overtime- Really? I love you Chief, but please, don’t ever dribble in traffic. Ever.

– Ryan Anderson was the hottest player on the planet tonight and he didn’t touch the ball until the two teams were three and a half minutes into overtime. I am not saying he didn’t shoot, I am saying he literally didn’t touch the ball despite the fact that he was hitting anything and everything. That can’t happen.

– Vasquez has an ability to be both fantastic and frustrating in the same game. If you look at his stat line, it is beyond brilliant. 25 points on just 13 shots and 14 assists is amazing. But you can’t overlook the 6 turnovers and the fact that he just couldn’t get this team a good look in overtime. He overdribbles and simply can’t turn the corner half of the time on the pick and roll, which forces him to set back up and eat some more clock. When that happens, it leads to Robin Lopez 15 footers that richocet off the top of the backboard. Nobody wants that.

– Austin Rivers came off the bench tonight and I felt like he played with a lot more energy than usual. 16 minutes might be a little low for him, but as I noted in my game preview, the Suns are not a good matchup for him and Mason’s three-point shooting made more sense against this Phoenix team.

– Jason Smith has a scratched left cornea. He should be able to play on Sunday, which means the team will be cautious and he will be out for a month.

– This was a great matchup for Lance Thomas and I was happy to see him get some playing time. He can’t do this every night, but against soft front lines, he can be productive as he will simply outwork them.

– Was really surprised that the Hornets weren’t more productive on the offensive boards tonight. Only 6. Phoenix is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. 18 turnovers and only 6 offensive rebounds results in your opponent shooting more than you. The Suns took 12 more shots than us tonight, which is why we could go 40-78 overall and 13-26 from deep and still lose.

– This one hurts. Let’s start the healing process! Everyone, chime in below


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